Hike For Freedom: Inspirational Female Trafficking Survivors To Conquer The Uk’s Highest Peaks

August 30, 2019 - by Client News

This week, the TRIBE Freedom Foundation and the Helen Bamber Foundation (HBF) will embark on a joint project called “Hike For Freedom”. The project will support a group of ten inspirational female survivors of modern slavery and extreme human cruelty to conquer the UK’s three highest peaks – Snowdon, Ben Nevis and Scafell Pike and will take place across the weekend of 30th August. 

The Hike For Freedom project is a partnership between the charitable foundations, with staff volunteering to run a monthly hiking group to help survivors build confidence, integrate into their community, and develop positive relationships necessary to live successful, independent and fulfilling lives. 

The TRIBE Freedom Foundation is a pioneering anti-slavery charity and athletic community, which works to harness the power of community and endurance fitness to increase awareness of modern slavery and support survivors. The TRIBE Freedom Foundation will also host it’s third annual “Run for Love” event in November, which raises vital funds to support the victims and survivors of modern slavery. 

The HBF is a specialist UK human rights charity supporting refugees and asylum seekers who are the survivors of extreme human cruelty. The people they work with have been subjected to atrocities including state-sponsored torture, human trafficking, religious and political persecution, forced labour, sexual exploitation, gender-based and ‘honour-based’ violence. The Charity, founded by Helen Bamber in 2013, is dedicated to ensuring that the people they support are free and healthy (both physically and mentally), are safe, are protected from re-victimisation, detention and poverty, and have the ability to integrate into and contribute to the communities around them.

The women taking on the Hike for Freedom have widely varying backgrounds, from Albania, Vietnam, Iran, Pakistan, India, Côte d’Ivoire and Uganda. All of them have experience of extreme human cruelty whether torture or trafficking, such as forced prostitution, domestic slavery and forced labour. 

The women, none of whom had prior experience of hiking before this project, will be climbing the three highest peaks in the UK, Ben Nevis (1,345 / 4,413 ft)  the highest mountain in Scotland, Scafell Pike (978 m /3,209 ft) the highest mountain in England and Snowdon (1,085 m/ 3,560 ft), the highest mountain in Wales. The total walking distance is 23 miles (37km) and the total ascent is 3064 metres (10,052ft) – twice the ascent of the Yorkshire Three Peaks, over a similar total walking distance.

As part of the training for the Hike for Freedom, monthly training walks were organised around the hills of The Chilterns, South Downs, Surrey and Epping Forest, along with adventure training sessions, gradually preparing the team for the incredible challenge of climbing the three highest peaks in the UK in September. The network of support provided by the project is vital to the success of clients as, without positive supportive communities around them, survivors are extremely vulnerable to falling into or falling back into the cycle of exploitation.

The group has already had a transformative effect on the women involved, many of whom experience symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which causes survivors to repeatedly re-experience traumatic events through excruciating flashbacks and nightmares and suffer debilitating panic attacks, extreme depression, anxiety and despair. Exercise is well established as an effective treatment for people suffering from depression. Evidence now indicates that it may also be helpful for people recovering from trauma including those diagnosed with PTSD. 

When I go to the hiking group, when I see these great women, it makes me feel so strong and forget about everything that is going on with me, my situation.” 

[Mia]

Refugees and asylum seekers face considerable barriers to exercise and the outdoors: they may be so worried about their future and their families that they do not have the mental and physical energy to engage in physical activity, not to mention financial barriers and not knowing how to access available activities. 

I was born in a small village in the mountains. Hiking is really challenging for me because of my memories […] It’s challenging but it’s making me much stronger. Every single time I get out of the house and go to the hiking group, I come back home and say to myself: ‘now I am stronger, I can do more and more, and nothing can ever break me down’.”

[Sarah]

Tom Stancliffe, co-founder of TRIBE said, “There are more than 136,000 victims of trafficking in the UK today. Trafficking is an unimaginably horrific experience for it’s victims. Yet we don’t believe enough is being done to provide long-term support for it’s victims, helping them regain their independence and confidence slowly. The Hike for Freedom is all about helping women find their inner strength again, drawing inspiration in the community to take on an epic challenge.”

He went on to add, “The TRIBE Freedom Foundation is devoted to fighting slavery and human trafficking. The Foundation was inspired by a 1,000-mile run to end modern slavery. We believe that fitness, community and being in Nature can be transformative for all of our wellbeing. It’s been amazing to learn how the group has impacted the women and how each client’s confidence has grown throughout the project.!

Kerry Smith, CEO of Helen Bamber Foundation said, “What these women get out of this experience is so much more than physical fitness, it’s knowing that they can face a seemingly insurmountable challenge and come out the other side stronger. It’s the confidence to leave the house without living in fear, the joy of immersion in nature, as well as the knowledge that they are not alone in coping with their trauma. It’s about moving forward, finding their inner strength in new experiences, realising the power of supportive relationships and knowing deep down that they are free.

In November, The Tribe Freedom Foundation will be hosting the third edition of  “Run for Love”, which aims to raise more than £250,000 to support victims of modern slavery and trafficking in the UK. Taking place in the tropical islands of The Azores, runners will cover 280km in 6 days. The event was established in 2013 when TRIBE Co-Founders Tom, Guy and Rob completed the first Run for Love – a 1,000 mile run across Europe, from Odessa to Dubrovnik, to set up the first home for trafficked children in the UK.

For more information on The TRIBE Freedom Foundation please visit: http://tribefreedomfoundation.com/

For more information the Helen Bamber Foundation, please visit: http://www.helenbamber.org

About author
Adam Tranter

Adam founded Fusion Media in 2007 from a passion for cycling and the media. Over the last ten years, he has successfully grown the company to lead the way in communicating cycling and endurance sport to the mainstream. Adam was a former racing cyclist and has also worked as a freelance journalist, contributing to cycling and national publications, including BBC News during London 2012. He is passionate about getting more people on bikes.

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